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Showing posts with the label OHV

West Mojave Plan Would Expand OHV Route Network

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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in February released a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the West Mojave Plan that would expand the open route network for off-highway vehicle (OHV) use and limit livestock grazing.  Despite concerns that an earlier iteration of the plan's OHV route network would have a significant adverse effect on wildlife, this draft proposes to significantly expand authorized OHV access to 10,428 miles of routes.  For the sake of comparison, the City of Los Angeles alone has about 6,500 miles of paved roads.
The last iteration of the West Mojave Plan was finalized in 2006 and proposed to designate 5,098 miles of open routes, but a Federal judge ordered the BLM to revise the plan.  The court ruled that the original plan lacked sufficient analysis of the effects of OHV use and grazing on wildlife, and asked the BLM to evaluate alternative OHV route networks that would minimize conflict and avoid considerable adverse effects on soil, wild…

BLM to Host Public Meetings on Off-Road Plan

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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is holding two public meetings to gather information on issues to consider and evaluate as it develops a new off-highway vehicle (OHV,  off-road vehicle, ORV) management plan for the western Mojave Desert.  You can find more information about the meetings by visiting the BLM announcement, but they will be held on 27 and 29 September.
Ridgecrest, 6:30-9:30PM, 27 September 2011, Kerr McGee Center, 100 W. California Ave., Ridgecrest, CA 93555 , phone: (760) 499-5151    Barstow, 6:30-9:30PM, 29 September 2011, Hampton Inn, 2710 Lenwood Road, Barstow, California   92311, phone: (760) 253-2600Hikers, rock hounds, OHV riders, campers, photographers, and people just looking to escape from the daily grind expect the BLM to maintain the desert's natural qualities while providing us access to the places we love, which is a difficult task.  Without a proper management plan and sufficient law enforcement, the desert ecosystem would not be able to sustain t…

OHV Damage Prompts Jawbone Canyon Trail Closures

An update on the "Friends of Jawbone Canyon" website highlights recent route closures as a result of illegal off-highway vehicle use causing damage to private property and areas of critical environmental concern.  Jawbone Canyon is a checkerboard of public and private land on the western edge of the Mojave Desert, just northeast of Tehachapi and southwest of Ridgecrest.  Some of the public land is designated as protected under the Jawbone-Butterbredt Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC).

In partnership with private landowners and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), dozens of miles of OHV routes were opened to the public to enjoy the natural splendor of the area.  An unlawful few, however, began to create new routes, irreparably harming undisturbed land, natural springs, and even cutting private fences.  Some routes have been closed as Friend of Jawbone (FOJ) Canyon works in partnership with Kern County and the BLM to restore damaged lands.

There is such thing as re…

Marine Base Expansion Will Limit OHV Recreation

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The Twentynine Palms Marine Base released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (draft EIS) for its proposed expansion, which would put over 146,000 acres of the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) area under military control for live-fire exercises.  The military has reportedly met with OHV groups to work out arrangements that give OHV users access to part of the exercise area when it is not being used by the military.  As a result, the Marines' preferred alternative would let OHV users access a portion of the area during 10 months out of the year.

The Johnson OHV area is one of the largest in the Mojave Desert, and draws thousands of OHV enthusiasts each year.  OHV use takes a heavy toll on the viability of desert habitat, so much of the area has already been degraded by years of intense OHV use.  However, desert plant and wildlife would still be impacted by the heavy military use of the area, and the Marines expect that anywhere from 121 to 189 adult desert tortoises could…

Two Court Rulings Favor Citizens Seeking to Preserve Deserts

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Over the past week, two major court rulings were handed down that vindicate Americans demanding that the government take a wiser approach to land use in California's deserts.

Off-Road Vehicles 
In the first ruling on 29 January, Honorable Susan Illston of the United States District Court ordered the Department of the Interior to take steps that limit the impacts of off-road vehicle (ORV) recreation on public lands in the West Mojave.  The judge ordered the Department to study and designate new off-road vehicle routes by March 2014, clearly mark routes that are legal for off-road use, monitor the land for signs of illegal ORV use, and provide sufficient enforcement capacity.   ORV use--if not probably checked--causes severe degradation of desert habitat through collisions with endangered species such as the desert tortoise, and the compaction of desert soil that prevents plants and wildflowers from thriving, impacting the entire food chain.

The Bureau of Land Management--part of t…

OHV Races and the Mojave Desert

It was a very unfortunate day for Mojave Desert Racing and Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) recreationists with this weekend's tragic accident in the Johnson Valley OHV area.  As much as I prefer my pristine desert wilderness, I understand that off-road vehicle enthusiasts ultimately share a love for the open space and freedom afforded by the Mojave. 

The media tends to paint OHV enthusiasts as the arch nemesis of environmentalists (and vice versa),  but there is middle ground, and hopefully that will not be ignored during the coverage of this tragedy.  It is true that OHV recreation is incompatible with conservation.  It is a fact that OHVs damage desert lands and harm endangered wildlife.  But if enjoyed responsibly, OHV enthusiasts can have their share of the desert, and leave the rest for everyone to enjoy in its natural state.  OHV recreation is a sport that--in my opinion--has not fully matured, but neither has our management of the deserts.

Some organizations may seek to take adv…